Gambling in football: Bookmakers considering ban on shirt and pitch-side advertising
Bookmakers are “considering” a voluntary ban on football shirt sponsorship and pitch-side advertising, a parliamentary committee has heard.
It would expand on the whistle-to-whistle ban on television gambling adverts introduced last year.
Half of Premier League clubs and 17 of 24 Championship clubs are sponsored by bookmakers.
That had led to concerns about the potential impact on young fans and vulnerable people.
Brigid Simmonds, chair of the The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), which represents 90% of the betting and gaming industry, told the House of Lords' Gambling Industry Committee that the whistle-to-whistle ban has reduced gambling advertising on television by 85%.
However, she conceded that some of the advertising may have moved online and added: “We may well need to do more and we are absolutely open to that”.
Asked whether her organisation was considering banning gambling logos from football shirts and perimeter stadium advertising, she said: “We are certainly looking at the whole issue of sponsorship.
“I think, as one of us said earlier, there are good messages. All the sponsorship that goes with clubs is about putting responsible messages on shirts as well as the name.
“We can consider this going forward, we are active in considering it.
“But I would also say, as someone who has worked a lot in sport in the last 50 years, that actually grass-roots sports benefit from a lot of the money that is put into sport.
“We want that sponsorship to be used responsibly.”
GVC, the parent company of Ladbrokes and Coral, has already withdrawn its sponsorship in football.
Its chief executive Kenny Alexander called for a wider industry move in this area, saying: “I think it needs to be seriously cut down”.
“Is the industry too much in the face of the consumer at the moment?” he said.
“Is there too much TV advertising, is there too much sponsorship? … I think that is undoubtedly the case and something I feel should be looked at.
“There are probably too many gambling adverts and too much noise about gambling in front of consumers in the UK at the moment.”
John Coates, joint chief executive of Bet365 and vice-chairman of Stoke City, said “I do hear the concerns” about the amount of advertising and said he “welcomes” the review of the Gambling Act.
However, he also said: “Stoke City survives on the money we put into it”.
Meanwhile, Conor Grant, chief operating officer of Sky Betting and Gaming, which sponsors the EFL, said: “I think it is important that we do have the opportunity to advertise as a business and I think it is really important we do that responsibly. The tone with which we do it, and the frequency, is all up for discussion. We welcome the review that is happening.”
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